Richard Crenna

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Richard Crenna
Richard Crenna Luke McCoy 1961.JPG
Richard Crenna, portraying Luke McCoy, in the television series, The Real McCoys, in 1961.
Born Richard Donald Crenna
(1926-11-30)November 30, 1926
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died January 17, 2003(2003-01-17) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Southern California[1]
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1937–2003
Spouse(s) Joan Grisham (1950–55; divorced)
Hannah Smith (1957–2003; his death)
Children 3
Military career
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch Seal of the United States Department of War.png United States Army
Years of service 1944–45
Rank Army-USA-OR-04a.svg Corporal[2]
Battles/wars World War IIBattle of the Bulge
Awards American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg World War II Victory Medal[3]

Richard Donald Crenna (November 30, 1926 – January 17, 2003) was an American motion picture, television, and radio actor[4] and occasional television director.[5]

Richard Crenna starred in such motion pictures as The Sand Pebbles, Wait Until Dark,[5] Un Flic, Body Heat,[5] the first three Rambo movies,[4] Hot Shots! Part Deux,[4] the remake of Sabrina, and The Flamingo Kid. Crenna played "Walter Denton" in the CBS radio network and CBS-TV network series Our Miss Brooks and "Luke McCoy" in ABC's TV comedy series The Real McCoys, (1957–63), which moved to CBS-TV in September 1962.

Early life

Crenna was born November 30, 1926, in Los Angeles, the only child of Edith J. (née Pollette), who was a hotel manager in Los Angeles, and Dominick Anthony Crenna, a pharmacist. His parents were both of Italian descent.[6] Crenna attended Virgil Junior High School, followed by Belmont High School in Los Angeles, from which he graduated in 1944.[citation needed]

World War II service

Following high school, Crenna served in the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in the infantry as a radioman, where he saw combat in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge (late 1944–early 1945). He also briefly served in the Pacific Theater of World War II processing intercepted Japanese radio messages.


After World War II, Crenna attended the University of Southern California where he majored in English, eventually receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.[5][7]

Acting career

Radio years

Crenna got his acting start on radio. In 1937, he had gained his first role that of "the kid who did everything wrong" on Boy Scout Jamboree, a show on which he continued to appear occasionally in numerous roles until 1948. In the following year, he started playing Walter "Bronco" Thompson on The Great Gildersleeve, and played it until the show's end in 1957. He appeared as a delivery boy in My Favorite Husband episode "Liz Cooks Dinner for 12", was Oogie Pringle on A Date With Judy episode "The Competitive Diet" and several other episodes from the show and as a teenager on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show episode "Watching the Neighbor's Daughter".

Early television years

From 1948-52, Crenna played Walter Denton on Our Miss Brooks and remained with the cast when they moved it to a television show. He guest starred on the I Love Lucy episode "The Young Fans" with Janet Waldo and on NBC's 1955–56 anthology series, Frontier, in the lead role of the episode entitled "The Ten Days of John Leslie". In 1955, he was the guest star on The Millionaire in the episode "The Ralph McKnight Story".

In 1956, on the television series Father Knows Best, Crenna appeared in the episode "The Promising Young Man" as a protege named Woody. In 1957, he played a bank robber on the Cheyenne show (season 2, episode 19).

When the 1948–1957 TV series Our Miss Brooks starring Eve Arden underwent a change in format, Richard Crenna's character, Walter Denton, was written off this series. Then Crenna joined the cast of the comedy series The Real McCoys, as Luke McCoy. Kathleen Nolan was cast as his young wife, Kate McCoy, in this series. Later, Crenna became one of the four directors of the series during its six-year run (1957–63).


In the 1960s, Richard Crenna directed many episodes of the Andy Griffith Show He also directed episodes of Lou Grant, which ran on CBS from 1977-82.[citation needed]

Crenna and Kathleen Nolan in The Real McCoys, 1960

Crenna portrayed the state senator James Slattery of California in the TV series, Slattery's People (1964–66), and for his acting in this series, he was twice nominated for Emmy Awards with slightly different names: for "Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment", in 1965, and for "Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Series", in 1965. Crenna was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for "Best TV Star – Male" in 1965, for this same role. In 1966, Crenna played the ill-fated captain of an American gunboat, in 1930s China, in The Sand Pebbles.

During the 1970s, Crenna continued his acting in such Western dramas such as Catlow, Breakheart Pass, and The Man Called Noon. He made a notable performance in Jean-Pierre Melville's final film Un Flic in 1972. In 1978 in the NBC-TV miniseries, Centennial, based on James A. Michener's historical novel Centennial, Crenna played the part of the deranged religious fanatic, Colonel Frank Skimmerhorn, who ordered a massacre of American Indians in Colorado in 1864.

Crenna and Bernadette Peters in All's Fair, 1976

1980s-early 2000s

Crenna won an Emmy Award,[5] and a nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television, for his performance as the main character in the 1985 movie The Rape of Richard Beck.[8]

Crenna played John Rambo's ex-commanding officer Colonel Sam Trautman in the first three Rambo films, a role for which he was hired after the actor Kirk Douglas left the production just one day into the filming of the first movie of the series. Crenna himself also spoofed this character in the movie Hot Shots! Part Deux, in 1993. Crenna portrayed the character of New York City Police Lieutenant of Detectives Frank Janek in a series of seven popular made for television films starting in 1988 and ending in 1994. The character of Janek originally appeared in a series of novels by Award-winning author William Bayer.


Crenna was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6714 Hollywood Boulevard.

Illnesses and death

Crenna had pancreatic cancer, and died on January 17, 2003 at age 76 of heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with his wife, Penni, and his three adult children by his side, said his daughter Seana Crenna. His remains were cremated.

Select filmography


  1. ^ "Richard Crenna bio". The Gettysburg Times. Retrieved November 30, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Crenna, Richard Donald, Cpl". Together We Served. Retrieved November 30, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Crenna, Richard Donald,Cpl". Together We Served. Retrieved November 30, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c "Richard Crenna". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Kilgannon, Corey (January 19, 2003). "Richard Crenna, Veteran Actor, Is Dead at 76". The New York Times. Retrieved April 17, 2011. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Richard Crenna Biography – Yahoo! Movies
  8. ^ "The Rape of Richard Beck". The New York Times. 

External links

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